San Francisco Giants Last Year: 72-90 4th NL West This Year: 3rd in NL West
Last year the team finally moved on from Bonds and was looking to start over. The question was what would draw the fans now that Bonds was gone. The answer was simple: Tim Lincecum. He came onto the scene in a big way turning from a big time prospect into a Cy Young Award winner. This team is building on something here with a stellar pitching staff. If they can find some hitting they could make some noise in the weak NL West. The hitting isn't there yet but not a lot of people are missing Barry Bonds in the Bay Area.
Opening Day Lineup w/Projections RF Randy Winn .296 9 HR 59 RBI 19 SB SS Edgar Renteria .281 9 HR 55 RBI 3B Pablo Sandoval .297 9 HR 77 RBI C Bengie Molina .283 15 HR 92 RBI LF Fred Lewis .291 11 HR 78 RBI CF Aaron Rowand .283 15 HR 81 RBI 1B Travis Ishikawa .277 11 HR 57 RBI 2B Kevin Frandsen .261 8 HR 55 RBI P Tim Lincecum
Rotation RHP Tim Lincecum 17-6 2.73 ERA 257 K LHP Randy Johnson 7-11 4.23 ERA 164 K RHP Matt Cain 10-10 3.69 ERA 188 K LHP Barry Zito 9-14 4.87 ERA 124 K LHP Jonathan Sanchez 9-12 4.76 ERA 167 K
CP RHP Brian Wilson 4.12 ERA 45 SV 69 K
Best Case Scenario: Randy Johnson stays healthy, Zito finds out how to pitch without velocity, and Lincecum wins another Cy Young. Renteria is at home back in the National League and Rowand bounces back from a disappointing 2008. Young prospect Lewis or Sandoval breaks out and provides some offense. This team finishes above .500 and makes the NL West a 3-team race into August and September.
Worst Case Scenario: Johnson gets hurt and retires. Zito is San Francisco Zito and is moved to the bullpen. Lincecum struggles with expectations and lack of run support along with Matt Cain. No one on the team hits over .300 or 15 home runs. The team averages 2 runs a game. They finish with 70 wins and make it a 3-team race for last place in the NL West into August and September.
Player Most Important to Success: Aaron Rowand. Aaron Rowand coming off a big contract and expectations struggled through 2008. In 2007 with Philadelphia, he went .309-27-89. While no one expected 27 home runs moving from homer-friendly Philly to spacious SF but he went .271-13-70. He is still only 31 years old and has a few more years in him. If he can hit towards .300 and 20 home runs he can help out the middle of the lineup and provide the needed runs for the pitching staff to lead this team to a successful year.
Outlook: This team may have the best pitching staff in the NL West. Linececum and Cain are absolute studs who are still young and only going to get better. People may not be expecting much out of Randy Johnson but he quietly pitched 184 innings last year with an ERA of 3.91 and 2.41 in the second half of the second year. He isn't headed back to his glory days but if he can put his back issues behind him he can do very well in the spacious AT&T Park. This team will see a lot 3-2 and 2-1 games but that is what they would like to see. They have the staff to steal games they shouldn't but they will still need the offense to improve from last year to do so. This team is headed in the right direction but it is a few years away until uber-prospects Buster Posey, Angel Villalona, and pitcher Madison Bumgarner join the team.